Outdoor dining permit extension boosts Inner Southeast eateries
Being able to offer outdoor dining during the coronavirus pandemic has likely saved many Inner Southeast Portland restaurants and cafés over the past year.
So proprietors were relieved to learn that the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) free "Healthy Businesses" permit program, set to expire after its first extension to March 31, will be continued over the summer until Hallowe'en, for those who have reapplied.
"To help Portland businesses continue to endure the economic impact of to the COVID-19 pandemic, 'Healthy Businesses' permits will be active from their issue date through October 31," confirmed PBOT spokesperson Hannah Schafer.
A very popular amenity
In Southeast Portland, outdoor dining spots have sprung up in parking spaces in many areas.
PBOT permitting data shows that the Woodstock business district hosts seven permitted establishments along S.E. Woodstock Boulevard alone; Foster Road offers five.
Currently, there are eleven permitted spots in Sellwood, along S.E. 13th Avenue. The first in that area, The Portland Bottle Shop, started as the Inner Southeast's pilot project site in the second year of the program.
"As soon as we learned it was available, I filled out the forms for the permit extension, and sent it in that same day," proprietor Travis Motter told THE BEE. "For us, it has been lifeline, for sure; having the outdoor seating has helped with keeping all of our employees on."
He found it interesting that customers came out in all kinds of weather, including rain and snow. "They tell us they love it, and compliment the design and look of our outdoor seating – which is really nice to hear," Motter acknowledged. "Being here, and open – I think it gives everyone a feeling of being a 'little bit normal', even if it's just for an hour or so."
And, along S.E. Milwaukie Avenue in Westmoreland there are eleven businesses operating under the permitting program.
Vickie Walsh of Fat Albert's Breakfast Café said that, even with just seven tables, the option of offer outdoor dining has been "incredibly helpful; it's allowed us to serve customers, instead of only being able to offer take-out food.
"And, our customers really seem to enjoy it! With some decent weather this winter, especially on the weekends when we do business, it's really helped."
Even as society begins to "open up" to indoor seating, it appears the outdoor dining option will likely keep its appeal – particularly for dog owners, who enjoy having their canine companion dining with them, as is commonly done even indoors in Europe.
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